humility

How To Be a Rock Star

by Larry Hehn on February 11, 2014

rock starBack in January I became a rock star. For about 35 minutes.

When told that I’d be making my singing debut in front of roughly 400 people, my friend Dan had the best reaction.

“Wow,” he said, “I didn’t know you had it in you.”

Fact is, I don’t, really.

There are no delusions of grandeur here. I would never make it beyond the judge’s table of American Idol. Heck, who am I kidding? The producers would screen me out long before that, and not just because I’m too old.

Still, a friend was in a bind and needed a vocalist. He knew I had been on stage before, and thought maybe I could help.

Sure, Andy. Invite the hard-of-hearing introvert to be your lead singer.

But hey, when a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity like this presents itself, I figured I’d be crazy not to jump at the chance. After all, who wouldn’t want to be a rock star for one night?

I let the band know that I’d come out to one rehearsal and give it a try. They could choose not to invite me back, and I would not be offended.

To my surprise, I was invited to the next rehearsal.

When it became clear that I was going to be the lead vocalist, I decided to make the most of it. I ordered some online voice lessons to help me with my range and overall comfort level. I practiced and experimented. I reviewed other performers to see what worked, and what didn’t.

I got a good, healthy assessment of my own limitations.

And you know what?

It was a blast!

The band was very gracious, encouraging, and lots of fun. The audience, even more so. The gig was a big success.

And, of course, I came away with some tips about how to be a rock star:

  1. Seize the opportunity. Every once in a while, something is going to come up that will stretch you well beyond your comfort zone. Will you take the plunge, or politely decline?
  2. Give it your all. The singers I enjoy most aren’t necessarily the ones who hit each note perfectly. They’re the ones who exude joy and passion when they sing, and connect with their audience. It’s not always about your skill level. It’s about how much “you” you bring to the table.
  3. Don’t take yourself too seriously. We knew we weren’t the greatest band. But the audience loved us in spite of it. Actually, because of it. How could someone refuse when you say to them, “I may never be a pro at this. But here’s my best, and I’m giving it to you, warts and all.”

Whatever you do, why not be a rock star with it?

Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters. – Colossians 3:23

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Less Is More

by Larry Hehn on June 28, 2013

less is moreI first heard the term “less is more” when I studied Industrial Design in college. Often attributed to Ludwig Mies Van Der Rohe, one of the pioneers of modern architecture, it refers to the idea that a subject has expanded impact when it is reduced to its necessary elements.

Though the “less is more” phrase first appeared in an 1855 poem by Robert Browning, the concept has been around since Biblical times.

Most notably with John the Baptist.

Sent by God to announce the coming of Jesus, foretold by Old Testament prophets, John the Baptist was the real deal. Jesus himself said, “I tell you the truth, of all who have ever lived, none is greater than John the Baptist.”  (Matthew 11:11)

If anyone were deserving of acclaim, you’d figure John the Baptist would be the guy. Yet here’s what he said about himself and Jesus:

“He must become greater and greater, and I must become less and less.”  (John 3:30)

If the greatest man who ever lived acknowledged that there needed to be less and less of him, and more and more of Jesus, where does that leave me?

“Less is more” is a relatively easy concept to accept when it comes to art and design. But it’s a whole other thing when it comes to me and my agenda.

Yet there it is, in black and white. The greatest man who ever lived recognized that there needs to be less of me, and more of Jesus. And while I rail against it and stubbornly cling to my personal desires, I know in my heart and soul that he is right.

The process of personal transformation is slow and often painful. I still have a long, long way to go. But I’m learning that, as I strive each day to make it less about me and more about Jesus, the more I become the person I always wanted to be.

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Don’t Be an Armchair Quarterback

by Larry Hehn on June 5, 2013

armchair quarterbackChappy and I used to play hockey together. He was our team’s top center. I was the goalie.

As an excellent hockey player and team captain, Chappy had earned permission to chew out any of the guys on the team who weren’t pulling their weight. Anyone he admonished knew the feedback was warranted and for their own good.

It was given to them directly, not grumbled behind their back. Discussion was open and honest, and dealt with then and there. He was also open to receiving feedback in return.

After one disastrous game, in which I couldn’t get my act together no matter how hard I tried, Chappy gave me a well-deserved tongue lashing. I was just as frustrated with myself for letting in some soft goals and not being able to get comfortable in net.

He must have sensed that frustration, since he then did something I never expected. He suggested that we swap positions at our next practice.

That Monday afternoon, Chappy donned my pads. I moved up to center. For an hour and a half we got a taste of what it was like to be in the other’s skates.

Exhausted, drenched in sweat, and completely humbled at our inability to cover the other’s position, we dragged ourselves back to the dressing room and slumped onto the benches across from each other.

Chappy’s eyes met mine. Slowly, he shook his head and said, “I will never yell at you again.”

Still panting, I gasped, “And I’ll never yell at you either.”

Chappy was no armchair quarterback. If he was going to criticize somebody for something, he wanted to know exactly what it was like to be in their skates…er, shoes. He gave the benefit of the doubt. He spoke with hopes of building the other person up, not tearing them down.

I don’t know whether to laugh or cry when someone who has never played hockey watches the extra-slow-motion replay of a backhand from inside the slot bulging the twine, then announces, “Aw, the goalie should have had that!”

Yes, maybe he should have. That’s why they pay him the big bucks. But, having played that position before, I don’t fault him for missing it. It’s amazing how easy something looks until you try it yourself.

That’s why I like shows like Pros vs Joes and Undercover Boss. The cocky amateur jock gets schooled about what it really takes to be a professional athlete. The corporate CEO gains an appreciation for the many hands that support the vision he/she is casting for his/her company.

Armchair quarterbacks aren’t necessarily couch potatoes. They’re just people who expect more from others than they do from themselves.

So if you find yourself thinking that someone you know really needs to hear this…

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